Science Says Being Vegetarian Is Worse For Environment Than Eating Meat

Common vegetables need 'more resources per calorie’ than many people think, says a team of scientists at Carnegie Mellon University

Science Says Being Vegetarian Is Worse For Environment Than Eating Meat

by Vicky Spratt |
Published on

Thought being a vegetarian or a vegan was the healthy and environmentally friendly option? Well, guys, it’s time to think again…maybe...

According to a new US study eating a healthier diet rich in fruit and veg could, in fact, be worse for the environment than consuming some meat.

Researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University in the States have analysed the environmental impact, per calorie, of different foods in terms of their energy and water use during production as well as the emissions this results in.

They’ve found that some vegetables actually require more water and energy per calorie to grow, and result in higher greenhouse gas emissions than some types of meat to produce.

What they’ve found is that even eating only the recommended ‘healthier’ foods can increase a person’s impact on the environment, even if your overall calorie intake is reduced.

Paul Fishbeck, co-author of the study and also professor of social and decisions sciences, said: ‘Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think.’

He added, ‘eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.’

Apparently, lettuce is a particularly bad offender because it is an incredibly water and energy intensive food to produce.

Fishbeck said that ‘eating lettuce is over three time worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon.’ Words you never thought you’d hear: lettuce is worse for the environment than bacon.

This is pretty controversial stuff and completely goes against all of the recent calls for us to quit eating meat in order to curb climate change – *Cowspiracy *anyone?! It seems what’s good for us might not actually, necessarily, be so good for the environment after all.

Don’t get too excited though, carnivores! The researchers did not dispute the idea that people should be eating less meat or the fact that farming livestock contributes to an enormous proportion of global emissions.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

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Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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